CARGO:Precious

Most of us are familiar with how Saartjie Baartman’s story ends: her remains repatriated to South Africa, nearly 2 centuries after her body had been dissected and bottled in formaldehyde, this experiment said to have been done “all in the name of science”. Sylvaine Strike and her team of extensive experts in the field of Dance, Music and Choreography, explore the untold part of Saartjie’s extraordinary story: Her time spent on a ship between the two continents of Africa and Europe, having been promised a life of freedom, fame and fortune as the subject of fascination in a travelling show called The Hottentot Venus.




“Saartjie Baartman was 21 years old when she was taken from her native South Africa and shipped to London. Within weeks, she had made headlines and was talk of the social season of 1810, hailed as the Hottentot Venus for her exquisite physique and shapely, irresistible bottom. As her fame spread to Paris, Saartjie became a lightning rod for late-Georgian and Napoleonic attitudes toward sex and race, exploitation and colonialism, prurience and science. Stared at, stripped, pinched, painted, worshipped and ridiculed, she came to symbolize the erotic obsession at the heart of colonialism.”
Rachel Holmes, The Hottentot Venus


Most of us are familiar with how Saartjie Baartman’s story ends: her remains repatriated to South Africa, nearly 2 centuries after her body had been dissected and bottled in formaldehyde, this experiment said to have been done “all in the name of science”.

Sylvaine Strike proposes to explore the untold part of Saartjie’s extraordinary story: Her time spent on a ship between the two continents of Africa and Europe, having been promised a life of freedom, fame and fortune as the subject of fascination in a travelling show called The Hottentot Venus.

Research suggests that Saartjie was loaded onto a ship leaving Cape Town as cargo. She was the only woman on board, and the property of Hendrik Cesar, a black free slave who worked for Alexander Dunlop a millitary surgeon. Both men accompanied Saartjie on the journey she would not return from alive, let alone entact.

Cargo:Precious is a unique collaboration between four Standard Bank Young Artist Award winners: director Sylvaine Strike (Theatre 2006), choreographer PJ Sabbagha (Dance 2005 ) musician Concord Nkabinde (Jazz 2006) and Fana Tshabalala (Dance 2013). The Forgotten Angle Theatre Collaborative team up with performers Daniel Buckland and William Harding. In an imagined account of Saartjie Baartman’s first time at sea, this collaboration tells the tale never told of a voyage that held so much promise.

Ensemble

 
Director: Sylvaine Strike
Choreographed by: PJ Sabbagha  
Conceived by: Sylvaine Strike
Performers:  Daniel Buckland, William Harding  
Dancers: Fana Tshabalala, Nosiphiwo Samente, Thami Majela, Irven Teme , Charlston Van Rooyen, Thulani Chauke  
Set and Costume Design: Sasha Ehlers  
Music by: Concord Nkabinde  
Lighting Design: Thabo Pule assisted by Alex Farmer  

Reviews:

"... a more gentle and lyrical approach to this blot on SA’s history..."
Christina Kennedy Business Day Live

"The practice of human zoos and ethnographic displays was also highlighted in Johannesburg this past week, during the city’s annual Arts Alive International Festival. But the all-star collaboration Cargo: Precious, which imagines the fateful sea voyage of "Hottentot Venus" Saartjie Baartman to Europe in 1814, takes a more gentle and lyrical approach to this blot on SA’s history.

No guerrilla tactics are needed here; just four former Standard Bank Young Artist winners — playwright and director Sylvaine Strike, choreographer PJ Sabbagha, dancer Fana Tshabalala and musician Concord Nkabinde — crafting a delicate piece that seamlessly melds movement, music, physical theatre and drama into a deeply moving and theatrically enriching whole. In their considered hands, Baartman is treated not as a tragic victim but rather as a full-blooded tragic heroine worthy of a Puccini opera: with love and almost reverential respect.”
"...move with the langour of a becalmed sea and the violence of a gale..."
Steve Kretzmann

"The dancers alternately move with the langour of a becalmed sea and the violence of a gale, so that, like clouds that have gathered on the horizon, they magically form into a towering, threatening formation of beauty, to next instant split apart like a thunderclap. And lull and alarm us again, successively layering surprise, calm and alarm into a continuous flow of movement to the devastating indictment of her dissection."

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